Human Trafficking in the United States - Part 2

Dana E. Brede


Written by Dana E. Brede in collaboration with Britten L. Bolenbaugh

Human trafficking is a major international issue, but most Americans would be surprised to learn that it also impacts our local communities. Recently, the 2015 National Western Stock Show in Denver made national news as an event that drew human trafficking. Unfortunately, with major surges of crowds and money into a venue or city, often comes an increase in child sex trafficking. Further, if trafficking could occur at a stock show, then it can happen anywhere. The FBI and Colorado State Patrol, along with several other Denver-area law enforcement departments, recovered six child victims of domestic sex trafficking and arrested two of the alleged traffickers1. On a positive note, the FBI reported in 2014 that its Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force, along with Colorado law enforcement, recovered 94 minors from commercially sexually exploitative environments2. Those are 94 lives that have been given a chance at a happy life.

Unfortunately, the Denver Stock Show isn’t the only event that brings human trafficking.  Every year, the Super Bowl draws a very large influx of tourism and money into the host city. Historically, the Super Bowl has been the LARGEST trafficking venue in the world! Think about it: easy access to airports for fast transport of trafficking victims, a thinly stretched police force, and limited accountability for traffickers. While it has gone seemingly unchecked for years, this year, multilateral efforts have been beefing up security and educating public venues on what to look for and how to report any behavior that could potentially elude to trafficking.

Fast Fact:

  • There are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 prostituted children in the U.S.3
  • Victims of human trafficking are very often not considered as victims of a crime, but rather considered as criminals or persons who have violated migration, labor and/or prostitution laws.
  • Human smuggling is different from human trafficking. The defining element of smuggling is transportation, while the defining element of trafficking is exploitation4.
  • “Human trafficking has many faces: forced or bonded labor; domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade, and warfare. However, probably due to statistical bias and national legislation, sexual exploitation (79%) is by far the most commonly identified form of trafficking in persons, followed by forced labor (18%)” (UNODC Fact Sheet)5.

At Regis University, students within the masters degree in Criminology learn how to anticipate, prevent and deter criminal behavior. The criminology curriculum course offerings are diverse and cater to individuals seeking to better understand and articulate the facets of humanity that are difficult for most people to consider. Human trafficking is a topic that appears in a few courses—contact your advisor for an updated list of course offerings.

I’d like to spend some time providing a platform for students that are seeking opportunities to get involved in the effort to mitigate human trafficking. Please note that my suggestions are merely a few of the many opportunities in and around Denver.

Internship Opportunities at the Denver District Attorney's Office:

  • Click here for internship opportunities at the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
  • For more information on internship and volunteer opportunities contact the Denver District Attorney's Office at info@denverda.org or contact Lisa Durbano, 720-913-9181 or email: lisa.durbano@denverda.org  

Internship Opportunities at the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA):


  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
  • CONEHT Hotline: 1-866-455-5075

Suggested Titles for Further Reading:

  • "Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them" written by Julian Sher"
  • "Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective" written by Louise Shelley
  • "From Human Trafficking to Human Rights" edited by Alison Brysk and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

If you would like to learn more about human trafficking in its many forms, I highly recommend the following sources for research:

  • Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance
  • Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking: The Colorado Project
  • COVA-Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance
  • International Organization for Migration

In closing, I am in the early stages of putting together a discussion about human trafficking and different ways that students at Regis can get involved. If you are interested in participating please email me at dbrede@regis.edu.

For more information about the online Master of Science in Criminology program at Regis University, contact an admissions advisor at 877-820-0581.

1Paul, J. (January 27, 2015) FBI recovers 6 minors, arrests 2 in Denver Stock Show sex sting. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27397487/fbi-denver-6-minors-recovered-2-arrested-during
2Paul, J. (January 27, 2015) FBI recovers 6 minors, arrests 2 in Denver Stock Show sex sting. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27397487/fbi-denver-6-minors-recovered-2-arrested-during
3Polaris Project. (2010). “Human Trafficking Statistics.” Retrieved from http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/resources-by-topic/human-trafficking
5UNODC. (2015). Factsheet on Human Trafficking. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/UNVTF_fs_HT_EN.pdf